This week’s waiver wire is under whelming. That’s the reality in our game; there isn’t going to be gold to dig up every week. I’ll uncover every rock possible before coming to that conclusion, but unfortunately some weeks there just isn’t an answer. In all but the deepest of league’s there will be uninteresting veterans like Brandon LaFell or yet to breakout young guys like Adam Shaheen, but you’re hoping to not have to start one of them this week and will be looking to replace them next week. There was one name I kept coming back to, Samaje Perine, and after the third time I cycled back to him it made sense why.
Perine burst onto the college scene in 2014. He was already having a strong Freshman season when he exploded for a NCAA record 427 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns vs. Kansas on this day (November 22nd) three years ago. But a funny thing happened after that season – he found himself losing part of his workload to newcomer Joe Mixon. Then the following year Mixon actually out touched him before being drafted 66 picks ahead of him. It isn’t like Perine’s performance suffered – he still averaged well over 5 yards per carry and found the end zone 30 times across two seasons. He was obviously good enough to maintain an important role, but he wasn’t good enough to keep the lead job. This has followed him in his short time in the pros.
Sure, it was my dynasty rookie rankings, but I kept finding myself looking for reasons to bump players ahead of Perine. In my mind, Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara were clearly superior options. I felt similarly with Curtis Samuel, Evan Engram, and O.J. Howard then as the days went by I slid JuJu Smith-Schuster above him…then Patrick Mahomes…then Chris Godwin…and eventually D’Onta Foreman and David Njoku too. Perine was fine…Perine is fine…but I wanted more. Then as the calendar turned to July and August reading through the tea leaves I saw his actual coaches doing the same thing. Robert Kelley had some moments as an undrafted free agent in 2016 (specifically his 137 yard, 3 touchdown performance vas. Green Bay) and carried a great story with him, but in the end he was very pedestrian. The term JAG (“just a guy”) gets thrown around fairly liberally these days in our game, but he really fit the description…and by all accounts he was clearly superior to Perine during the preseason.
Admittedly, this struck me as hyperbole at the time, but then the calendar flipped to September and the snap counts told the whole story. Perine didn’t get any week one while Kelley and Chris Thompson split the workload. Kelley got injured during the Week 2 contest, which opened the door for Perine but he totaled just 3.1 yards per carry through three games and lost a critical fumble – after ball security issues followed him during the summer. Despite Jay Gruden repeatedly saying he wanted Thompson to maintain a complementary role (he saw 63% of the teams snaps after their Week 5 bye) it was a sign of things to come. Despite Kelley continuing to battle injury when he was healthy enough to play he saw the secondary workload to Thompson while Perine saw six total snaps from week 7-9. Once again, decision makers looking for reasons to use someone other than Perine.
So why am I writing about a guy that both myself and his coaches continue to look for reasons to use someone else? Well, as you know, both Thompson and Kelley have been lost for the season. In the end, in our game, volume is king – and there is only reason to believe Perine is going to see a lot of it. And if he keeps playing like he did Week 1 against New Orleans he will earn it. Yet I keep looking at Perine…then looking at the end of my benches…and I decide to stick with my roster as-is. Dion Lewis isn’t for everyone, but I think he’s right for me. Ameer Abdullah has left plenty to be desired this season, but if I’m in a jam I trust him against Baltimore, Tampa Bay, etc. David Johnson may or may not play this season, but does anyone have more upside than him if he does play? With every decision I kept finding myself selecting the alternative. And then I remembered what’s coming this week…
This week’s Flavor of the Week is Green Bean Casserole
Green bean casserole is fine, but when someone passes the stuffing (Dion Lewis) I’m going to pile that on my plate first. Then ole’ reliable mashed potatoes and gravy (Ameer Abdullah) follows and I’m going to heap them on next. And as my plate fills I find myself left with only a little bit of room and two options remaining – green bean casserole and the homemade mincemeat pie (David Johnson) grandma brought. I have no idea what’s in that pie or if it’s any good, but I know I need to make grandma happy and with the unknown that’s when you can stumble upon the best dish of the meal. So when all is said and done – I just don’t have any room for green bean casserole on my plate. There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s fine – I just only have so much room. And I sought out reasons to fill that plate with other dishes. And that’s Samaje Perine.